For questions which are old and unanswered and with a score less than zero, the Roomba may provide automated deletion.

For questions which are sometimes many years old and unanswered and sometimes with a score much more than zero, I would never suggest deletion, nor would I propose Automatic system-generated bounties on old, highly-upvoted, unanswered questions in small sites (or any sites), but is leaving them open and unanswered potentially forever the only approach?

This question is intended to initiate a discussion about old, unanswered and open questions. It does not advocate closing such questions because they are unanswered.

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    The idea of closing questions because they are unanswered seems counter-intuitive to me. We'd be ensuring it can never be answered, which defeats the purpose of the question in the first place. Mar 30, 2018 at 7:58
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    You've just added an additional step to answering a question for no particular reason. I guess I don't understand the reasoning behind this request. Is the issue that this is a question and answer site and therefore unanswered questions aren't fulfilling their purpose enough? We therefore need some visual indication that they've failed to achieve their purpose? Mar 30, 2018 at 8:11

3 Answers 3


Should they stay open? Yes, absolutely.

The age of a question alone shouldn't have any impact on a question's suitability for a site. If a question is off-topic then it should be closed; if it's on-topic then it should remain open.

The important thing to remember is that closing a question is done to prevent the question being answered, nothing more. Closing an otherwise good question because it hasn't had an answer is completely counterproductive.

If a site has a problem with a lot of old unanswered questions then maybe there is a larger problem with site scope that needs to be discussed (on that site's meta). It's also important to remember that site scope does change over time so there's a chance those question's aren't actually on-topic anymore. In which case they should be closed, but otherwise there's no reason to close questions simply because they are old and unanswered.


I'd say... probably, though users should probably review them taking into account other factors. That they're old and unanswered is insufficient, IMO to close them.

If there's a newer, better question, with answers, I'd rather the old question be closed as a duplicate of the new one. In addition, often the norms of sites change over time, and they might be closed.

So, periodic manual review as they get bumped is nice. If they're good, but hard to answer questions, they may still be useful to others, even if OP no longer has that issue.

As such I'd say leave em alone unless there's a good reason to close it.


I prefer not to let my own old questions remain unanswered if they have received many upvotes from the community.

I assume that the reason they have not been answered is either that I have not made them clear enough or scoped them well enough to attract a potential answerer, or if they are sufficiently clear and well scoped then that they are thought too difficult to offer an answer to using volunteered time.

Clarity and scope can be easily addressed by more editing but if I am out of ideas on those fronts, and if even a bounty produces no answers, then I try to provide a self-answer that summarizes what I have learned from any comments received and additional research that I have done. The question remains open to better answers forever but at least someone finding the question can read an answer to gain insight into the difficulties we (me and presumably the community) have had when trying to answer it.

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